Photographs courtesy of Janelle Steinberg
I find that there are a few essential accessories that any room, regardless of style, can use as part of a total look. The top accessory? A Tray. Not only do trays look nice, they function well, too!
Trays unify and organize. They provide an opportunity to bring in an accent material, color and/or finish. Throw a tray under just about anything or a group of somethings, and it immediately looks pulled together and "finished".
As a guideline when shopping, the things to remember are the following: 1) there are many different sizes and shapes of trays (large, small, long, square, circular), and scale should be a consideration; 2) trays are made of all sorts of materials such as bamboo, silver, acrylic, copper, wood, porcelain, leather, stainless steel...the options are endless! Choose a material that will live in harmony with your interior and provide a subtle accent.
Ten ways to use a tray throughout the home:
1. Place a tray on the entry or hall table. Phone, keys, wallet, planner, mail....let the tray be the dumping ground. The tray prevents "clutter spread" by concentrating it all in one place. Plus, a tray in this location saves you time- since you know where you left your keys.
2. Place a small tray under meal necessities. Items such as the salt and pepper and the sugar bowl (I even venture to add vitamins, but place them in a glass jar for aesthetics sake, first) can be displayed nicely when not in use, and can easily be carried to and from the morning room, dining room or outdoor eating area.
3. In the dining room, a tray on the sideboard can anchor a swanky cocktail set. Or a fancy wine decanter and wine "tools". Or a collection of your grandmother's crystal...
4. In the living room, a tray can be used atop a table to showcase a small collection of whatever it is you collect. It can also showcase a mixed collection to create a tablescape- think of a small stack of books with a small bud vase and a few objects. Just lovely.
5. In the family room, a large tray can act as a table. Set it on the ottoman and you have a surface for drinks, snacks, or an area for display (see living room, #4).
6. In the bedroom, a small "valet" try can serve as a catch all for cuff links, watches, earrings, etc.
7. In the bathroom, a tray can house and display bath products on a ledge or on the vanity. Cologne and perfume look especially lovely grouped on a tray atop the vanity.
8. In the closet, several small trays can help with organizing accessories and jewelry. A bunch of small trays or tiny shallow bowls organized on one large tray looks really hip. You will want to organize your stuff if it looks that good after you do it!
9. In the office- tray it up! One linear tray can hold thumb drives, SD cards, iPods, wrapped up ear buds, etc. Its a desk lifesaver since it keeps place and is easily accessible throughout the workday. If you are into having all your supplies out on the desk, utilize #8 for your paperclips, rubber bands, sticky flags, etc.
10. In the garage or utility room, a sturdy tray can hold the dog leash, grooming tools, and plastic baggies for walks. All in one place, all the time.
Written by Janelle Steinberg